Sydney’s international borders reopened on Monday, ending nearly 20 months of tough restrictions and sparking emotional scenes at Sydney and Melbourne airports as people reunited with their loved ones. Australia was one of the first countries to shut its borders to international travel in March 2020. Shortly after the start of the pandemic, the government said only citizens and permanent residents would be allowed to enter, and they would have to undergo 2 weeks of hotel quarantine. A quota system also severely limited the number of people who could arrive each day. But as Australia’s vaccination rollout accelerated in September and October, the Prime Minister announced that citizens and permanent residents with both their shots would be allowed to travel international and return home, with arrival quotas also lifted. The border limits were lifted only in the highly-vaccinated states of New South Wales and Victoria so far, but hopefully other states will soon follow.

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